The educational services marketplace with tens of millions of students and education service providers (ESPs) including teachers, tutors, instructors, trainers and small as well as large teaching organizations, is a exciting market for an online (SaaS) platform that solves numerous problems for students and ESPs alike. Students can not only find quality ESPs in a specific geographical area but such technology can lower the overall cost of educational services for them. For ESPs, such a marketplace can help find new business (students) at a cost far lower than online and print promotion such as Google Adwords and educational classifieds. WizIQ has specifically focused on ESPs by offering them a free education tools platform that they can use with their students to teach them live and online. The result is that WizIQ now has over 150k students and ESPs consuming and delivering a number of educational services. The growth pattern of WizIQ is primarily viral with each ESP inviting their students to join the platform. The key to business success in the education marketplace is rapid growth of the user base and consumption of education services such as live classes, online tests and courses in a wide variety of subjects and topics. WizIQ’s business revenue model is by charging premium subscription-services to ESPs for the use of advanced tools and helping them find new customers. Since our immediate focus is of providing e-teaching tools, we are currently competing against related tools for live online teaching including WebEx and Elluminate. However, in the future we will be competing with other student-teacher platforms such as Blackboard and Moodle.
Education Industry Segmentation
The education industry segments in the following manner:
- Test Prep - SAT, ACT, AP, GRE, GMAT etc.
- Language Learning - English as second language, basic or advanced Spanish, Chinese and so on
- Professional or on-the-job training such as soft skills training, OSHA/HAZMAT and other industrial training
- Degrees Programs – University of Phoenix Online, two and four year College distance learning programs
- Casual Learning – Do-it-Yourself lessons, like howstuffworks.com, what to wear on the first date etc.
What is WizIQ?
WizIQ.com is the online platform where users discover, transact and consume educational services. Students find educational services such as online classes, courses, tests, content as well as locate ESPs offering their services online and offline. Here, ESPs connect with their own students as well as find new business, such as student leads and content selling opportunities etc. WizIQ is addressing the test prep, language learning, professional learning and casual learning market segments. The ultimate goal of WizIQ is enabling a marketplace where students and ESPs are interacting, as well as Universities (for student leads), Educational Publishers (for selling textbooks and software) and Financial Institutions (for educational loans) are all realizing value
The Problem WizIQ Solves
We believe that WizIQ is a market solution for ESPs using and looking for educational tools and desiring connections with students via live virtual classrooms, create tests and other rich media content for lessons. WizIQ targets such ESPs looking for similar tools and brings them under a single roof. An effect of this is that they use these tools with their own set of students, typically anywhere from 10 to 100 students per ESP. The benefit to WizIQ is that to use our tools the ESPs’ students must register as WizIQ users, thereby helping grow the user base. With this viral marketing technique, we can interest ESPs on a large scale, say 100,000 worldwide and can generate a critical mass of users within a short time. Currently over 40% of all users who signed up on WizIQ joined from such viral marketing efforts.
Observations on the Education Industry
The education industry is driven not just by learners but instead the relationship between teachers and their students. It is similar to the pharmaceutical industry where doctors influence their patients in recommending drugs and medical services. Similarly, teachers influence their students in recommending learning content, e.g. books and other educational services. Another observation is content is a very important piece but not paramount. Content is something everyone is looking for – both teachers and students but creating a sustainable competitive advantage by producing content is not possible. This is partly because there can only be a finite amount of content for a given set of subjects and topics in education. The kind of transactions that take place in the education industry can be summarized as:
- Students paying for content such as books, educational videos, solutions to problems etc.
- ESPs paying for using online education tools such as course management systems e,g, Moodle. For authoring and quizzing tools like Articulate and QuestionMark Perception respectively.
- ESPs paying for student lead generation as well as advertising in online portals as well as in print media such as classifieds.
The Online Education Industry
An important thing to note here is that we are not just talking about online education or e-learning (meaning online delivery of education) but we are talking about the education industry going online, including the e-learning. E.g. helping ESPs find business through the Internet, via ads or lead generation. Although this is not e-learning per se, it is also the focus of our company. Understanding the online education industry requires being aware of the kind of financial transactions that take place in the physical as well as the online world
- Software tools – Companies like Blackboard, Wimba, Articulate and TechSmith sell consumer and enterprise software to ESPs
- Courses and degrees – Colleges sell degree programs to students
- Tutoring – independent as well as small to large ESPs sell supplemental tutoring and TesPrep services to consumers as well as schools and colleges.
- Classifieds and ads – ESPs advertise their services, say tutoring, in print as well as on the Internet e.g. local education classifieds and Craigslist classifieds.
- Student lead generation – This is a multi-billion dollar industry in itself with colleges and degree granting schools buy student leads for $40-200 per lead.
Content licensing – This is a widespread business with large as well as small content publishers licensing and selling their content to other ESPs as well as directly to consumers. The content can include tests and assessments, lesson plans, educational videos etc.
WizIQ Business Benefits
As WizIQ becomes a large marketplace of ESPs and students, following will be the benefits to them:
- Student Benefits:
- Students can find quality ESPs in their local community or at a global level.
- Student can find classes and courses on esoteric subject matter which is usually a problem.
- Cost of education can be reduced since the cost of delivering education will be lower for ESPs
- ESP benefits:
- With no real estate and infrastructure cost to the ESPs, the cost of delivery of education will go down, increasing their profitability.
- ESP doesn’t need to build marketing and infrastructure competencies since that is taken care of by WizIQ.
A large part of the product offering is focused on serving the ESPs who want to use our platform with their students. We support the following ESP uses:
- Profiles – An ESP can fill in their profile, which is a showcase of his expertise, skills and teaching and education experience.
- Live online classes – An ESP can sign up for free and schedule live classes in our virtual classroom that is equipped with two-way audio video interaction, text chat and whiteboard capabilities. The ESP can invite one or as many as 50 students in one classroom to teach – this is our main viral component so far.
- Peer-to-peer connections – ESPs and students can reach out to other members of WizIQ with the social network capabilities of our platform.
- Tests and Assessments – Pending, ESPs will be able to create and send tests to their students, embed tests in their blogs and websites, generating added viral effects.